More than one in ten Brits feel lonelier at Christmas

A group of people walking on a path beside a field 

As our new research shows that people are more likely to struggle with feeling lonely during the festive period, we’re encouraging people across the country to take part in our Festival of Winter Walks which starts today.

Christmas adverts bombard us with images of cosy family scenes and social gatherings, but new research by the Ramblers shows a different picture, with more than one in ten adults (14%) in Britain admitting they feel lonelier during the festive season than during the rest of the year. 

Following the launch of the Government’s Loneliness Strategy in October this year – which highlighted that between 5% and 18% of UK adults feel lonely often or always – a survey commissioned by the Ramblers showed that the festive season can exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

Our chief executive, Vanessa Griffiths, said: “We know that the festive season can be a particularly difficult time for people who are on their own. Winter is a wonderful time to go walking, but not having anyone to go with can be a barrier to getting outside. Joining one of our winter walks brings not just the physical and mental health benefits of exercising outdoors and being close to nature, but also a welcoming, supportive group of people to chat to as you walk. Who knows, it might even lead to a love of walking and lifelong friendships.”

Our research also showed that:

  • A quarter of people surveyed also said that they would be spending all or some of the holiday period alone.
  • More than a third (41%) of adults surveyed said that they if they were feeling lonely, an outdoor group activity like walking would appeal as a way to meet new people
  • One in ten people said they were worried about not getting out of the house during the festive season
  • Of those who said they felt lonelier during the festive season, one in five (21%) said it was because there were fewer opportunities to get out and meet new people

With loneliness linked to heightened risk of depression, Alzheimers and coronary heart disease, the Festival of Winter Walks is focusing on the social side of walking and the importance of meaningful social contact. 

Kim Leadbetter, Jo Cox Foundation Ambassador, said: “I am passionate about the role of physical activity in addressing the issue of loneliness, and walking is a brilliant way of connecting people. Along with the physical benefits of getting out and walking there are huge psychological and social benefits too. I am delighted that The Ramblers is promoting Winter Walks as a way of bringing people together during the festive season when, as their research shows, many of us can feel lonely. Great work Ramblers!”

During the Festival of Winter Walks, supported by players of Peoples Postcode Lottery, Ramblers groups across the country are offering hundreds of free festive walks, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the UK’s wonderful winter landscapes and make new friends along the way.

To find a winter walk near you, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/winter.